An action game, but not as you know it, for MacOS
By Ambrosia Software
Whilst I was roaming the internet looking for news and new things to put in
this issue of Alive, or preferably, some distraction from the task of
writing articles, I came across this.
Sketchfighteris an arcade-based shoot-emup, but not really like anything
you normally expect to see. Fancy 3-D textured graphics have been disowned.
You don't even get the lavishly coloured sprites and explosions typical of
the later 16-bit computer and console era. Well does that leave us with a
retro-vector line based game, like the early Atari arcade machines then?
Sort of, keep going..
What Ambrosia Softwarehave done with Sketchfighter, is to make a game
environment look as if it has all been hand-drawn with a ballpoint pen,
hence the name Sketch-Fighter. The inspiration was from all the doodles and
drawings of fanciful space ships and space battles that a lot of young geeks
drew, to get them through their most boring maths classes at school. Now an
OpenGL based graphic engine makes it possible to fly through a 'hand-drawn'
tunnel network, populated by all kinds of enemies and obstacles.
It might even look like what you would get, if someone made a game out of
the initial game concept hand-drawings from the original graph paper.
Here's what you get!
It is available as a MacOS game, will run on both Intel and PPC systems, and
is distributed as shareware for a not too unreasonable 19 dollars a time.
It looks like a version of Gravitaror Thrust, and has elements of their
gameplay. although there is no gravity 'pull' on the ship, and progress
through the early levels is quite easy, as long as you are reasonably
careful. The gameplay is, for the most part, gently paced, and is
exploration, rather than mission based. The overall presentation and game
menus all maintain this hand-drawn style, and hand-written instructions. You
do get things like weapons upgrades as the game progresses, there are
colour-coded doors or gates that need a specific weapon or instrument to
open it, and there are even huge hand-drawn end of level bosses to overcome,
which is where I'm getting unstuck right now! There is a constant in-game
tune which is bland and inoffensive, but at least you won't feel like going
out and wanting to punch in the composer's face half an hour later. Also
there are some more or less standard sound effects.
The in-game animation is smooth and easily-flowing, when something is shot,
it explodes into a satisfactory number of pieces, and there isn't any
slowdown, even on the low-spec Mac Mini that I've got.
The shareware version is crippled to some extent. Once you have registered,
you can access all levels, and there is a two-player option, (as in two
players at once.) There is even the option of online play against other
Sketchfighter aces, or co-operatively, depending on how the mood takes you.
It presents itself as a fullscreen game on the Mac, and there is a choice of
800 x 600 or 1024 x 768, I guess depending on how powerful your Mac graphics
card is. It isn't clear what versions of MacOS are supported, but 10.4 Tiger
seems to be ok ;-)
I'd say that Ambrosia have a quiet sleeper hit on their hands here. I'm
interested in this game, to the point of putting it in Alive, because of the
quirkiness factor, also it runs on Mac, and the intention that it might even
give one or two games makers closer to home some more ideas!?
Ambrosia do have all of this on their website, the URL lives at:-
CiH,for Alive Mag, Dec '06.